Castle Combe May 10th 1833
My Dear Talbot,
I have thought since I saw you upon the idea you started of proposing to the House of Commons a Resolution declaratory of the simple fact of the vast change which has taken place of late years in the value of our standard and the more I think of it the more advisable it appears to me that some such step should be taken with the view of bringing this important fact clearly and prominently before The House and the Country. What a dense ignorance must prevail on the subject when a Lord Chancellor - notoriously the cleverest man in the Kingdom - can congratulate the public on the fixity of its standard of value, - that standard having doubled in value within the last 15 years!
Had I a seat in the House, I would certainly propose something like the following string of Resolutions - leaving them some days for the consideration of the House & the public before calling for its decision - after the manner of Lord Fitzwilliam,s Corn law resolutions -
1. Resolved - That a comparison of the average prices of Grain, Meat, Butter, Cheese, Coals, Tallow, Hops, Sugar, Coffee, Whale Oil, Tobacco, Leather, Wool, Hemp,
flax Flax, Cotton, Iron, and Timber, and Iron, in the years 1819 <1> and 1832 respectively - (as that appears from exhibited by the most authentic sources of information, and particularly from by the Tables returned by the Board of Trade to this House, and printed in the Appendix to the Report of the Committees of last session on the party ofBank of England Charter-) shews that the prices of these the primary raw articles of consumption both of home and foreign production, have fallen, upon the average, nearly about 40 per cent since the year 1819.
2. Resolved, That the fall in the prices of the principal
articles of manufactured articles, such as Hardware, Cottons, Cloths, Hosiery, Gloves, Silks, &c, having notoriously during the same time period very much exceeded the rates of the fall in raw produce, the general reduction in price of the aggregate of commodities in the markets of Britain, including both raw and manufactured produce, can hardly be estimated at less than fifty per cent.
3. Resolved, That such a general reduction in the prices of goods, reckoned in a gold currency and, consequently, in the quantity of gold for which goods will exchange,
Currency is synonimous with a doubling of the exchangeable value of gold, recovered in goods, and has occasioned a doubling of every money engagement, public or private, entered into before the change took place, and still due - including the entire National Debt, the Dead Weight, the Pension list, and all other money liabilities of the State.
4. Resolved that
so severe the duplication of the National burdens as well aas of all private incumberances, thus proved to have taken place within the last fifteen years, may well account for the distress under which the productive Industry of the Country appears to labour.
5. Resolved - That such violent and extreme alterations, witin so short a period, n the value of that metal which is by law the standard of value
is throughout the Empire, and which for this purpose is assumed to be, and ought in fairness to be, invariable in its in value- must grievously derange all industrious speculations, vitiate all pecuniary engagements, and subvert the security of all property, and that it is therefore highly expedient that means should be adopted, if possible, to prevent their recurience.
6. Resolved, That a Committee of this House be appointed to consider and Report upon the variations that have taken place within the last (half-century?) in the value of the legal standard of value, and to suggest what measures they may deem expedient for giving to the standard that fixity and steadiness which is indispensable to its fairness and utility as a measure of value in all pecuniary transactions,
particularly but especially in those which are entered into for a long term, or for perpetuity.
This proposition would not interfere in the least with the Resolution carried the other day against the reduction of the Stanard - but just the Contrary. And if these resolutions are not carried, the debate on them cannot fail to enlighten the minds of members and fo the public to the real bearings of this great question.
If you think of bringing forward any thing like these resolutions, I can suppy you with detailed proofs of the facts asserted, and arguments in support of the inferences; which however, flow so necessarily from the facts as to need only to be enounced. The Enemy will, of course, try to blink the question and to confuse it by asserting the fall of general prices to be in great part owing to the increased facilities of producing goods. So it is, of course; but this does not prevent the gross difference between the comparative value of gold and goods, now and in 1818, being a
fall rise in the exchangeable value of gold of 100 per cent. If the increased facilities of production had been universal and affect extended to gold as well as other goods, gold would have maintained the same relative level in the market as before and prices would not have been affected in the aggregate, in spite of all the possible advance of machinery &c. It is only because the production of gold has been either stationary or retrograding, while that of most goods has been rapidly accelerated, that the difference in their comparative estimation (or value) has arisen. It matters not, in short, what have been the immediate originating causes of the fall in prices. The fact is there - Gold has doubled in its power of purchasing, that is, in its exchangeable value; and has so far become a most iniquitous measure of the value of all pecuniary liabilities entered into for long terms. This undesiraable, and the inferences are of stupendous moment. If we renounce all idea of remedying past injustice, for God, sake let us take measures, if possible, to prevent the occurrence of such frightful mutations of property in future. The entire fabric of our commerce is built upon a quicksand, and hsall we refuse to examine into its stability, and look for means of securing it?
Mr. Cagley, I believe, has a motion for some object connected with this subject. Perhaps by consulting with him you may contrive to unite your forces- Pray write me if you mean to do any thing, and believe me
My Dear Talbot, ever, very sincerely your,
G. Poulett Scrope
1. Scrope overwrote the last digit, possibly a 2 or a 0, but his final intent of 1819 is made clear further down the paragraph.